Waylon Jennings performs onstage circa 1985. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images)/ Stevie Nicks 1981 during Music File Photos 1980's at the Music File Photos 1980's in Venice, California. (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage)
Waylon Jennings performs onstage circa 1985. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images)/ Stevie Nicks 1981 during Music File Photos 1980's at the Music File Photos 1980's in Venice, California. (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage)

Waylon Jennings Covered Fleetwood Mac's Enchanting Classic 'Rhiannon'


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There's a pleasant surprise for fans of classic country and classic rock on Waylon Jennings' 1985 album Turn the Page, and we're not talking about the Bob Seger-penned title track.

Instead, it's Jennings' personal spin on Fleetwood Mac's enchanting and iconic "Rhiannon."

Sure, no cover of "Rhiannon" will ever overshadow Fleetwood Mac bandmates Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie's spellbinding vocal harmonies. Yet that shouldn't take anything away from Jennings, a great storyteller with a mystical story to tell.

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Nicks wrote and sang lead vocals on the Fleetwood Mac original, which first appeared on the band's self-titled 1975 album.

Read More: Waylon Jennings Through The Years: From His Younger Days Through Outlaw Infamy

The story of Rhiannon dates back to Welsh mythology. She's a goddess, able to turn herself into a white horse, in the prose tales of Mabinogion. Nicks discovered the character through the Mary Bartlet Leader novel Triad: A Novel of the Supernatural (1972), in which a woman named Branwen is possessed by a spirit named Rhiannon.

Nicks' fascination with Leader's book and ultimately the Welsh legend that inspired it informed not just the song lyrics of "Rhiannon" but also those of "Angel," a track on Fleetwood Mac's 1979 album Tusk.

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Fleetwood Mac's version got a pop culture boost in 2013 when it was featured in the popular TV series American Horror Story: Coven.

Rolling Stone magazine's 2004 list of the 500 greatest songs of all time lists Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon" as number 488.

It wasn't the first time Jennings covered Fleetwood Mac, with his version of Nick's "Gold Dust Woman" appearing on 1978's Waylon and Willie.

Read More: 'Landslide': The Story Behind the 1975 Fleetwood Mac Classic and The Chicks' Country Cover

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Nor was Jennings the last country act to spotlight Nicks as a songwriter. Glen Campbell covered one of her solo singles, "After the Glitter Fades," in 1984. More famously, The Chicks made the Fleetwood Mac song "Landslide" a million seller in 2002.

Also, "Leather and Lace," a 1981 hit for Nicks and Don Henley, was written with Jennings and Jessi Colter in mind. Jennings and Colter never recorded the song, despite their 1981 album being titled Leather and Lace.

"Rhiannon" Lyrics

Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night
And wouldn't you love to love her?
Takes to the sky like a bird in flight
And who will be her lover?
All your life you've never seen a woman taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven?
Will you ever win?

She is like a cat in the dark
And then she is the darkness
She rules her life like a fine skylark
And when the sky is starless
All your life you've never seen a woman taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven?
Will you ever win?
Will you ever win?

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Rhiannon
Rhiannon
Rhiannon
Rhiannon

She rings like a bell through the night
And wouldn't you love to love her?
She rules her life like a bird in flight
And who will be her lover?
All your life you've never seen a woman taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven?
Will you ever win?
Will you ever win?

Rhiannon
Rhiannon
Rhiannon

Oooooh
Taken by
Taken by the sky
Taken by
Taken by the sky
Taken by
Taken by the sky

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Dreams unwind
Love's a state of mind
Dreams unwind
Love's a state of mind

Editor's Note: Products featured on Wide Open Country are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

This article was originally published in March of 2021. 

 

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